Roberto de Zerbi says his Brighton side are “dreaming” of qualifying for Europe as Solly March’s brace and a late Danny Welbeck strike condemned Liverpool to a heavy defeat at the Amex Stadium.
March converted Kaoru Mitoma’s low cross to give the home side a deserved lead, after returning Alexis Mac Allister intercepted Joel Matip’s loose pass.
The winger then doubled the hosts’ advantage with a fabulous left-footed strike on Evan Ferguson’s through ball.
Second-half substitute Welbeck capped off a brilliant display at Brighton with a superb finish past Alisson after kicking the ball past Joe Gomez.
“I have a fantastic team of fantastic players,” said De Zerbi. “It is an honor to work with them.
“We have a goal at the end of the season. Now we have to play another 20-21 games and we have to stay focused on those games.
“We want to work harder to achieve our goal.”
De Zerbi’s side dominated the first half but failed to convert their pressure into goals, with Trent Alexander-Arnold blocking March’s effort near the goal line and the lively Mitoma widening out of the way. a tight angle.
Brighton thought they had won a penalty shortly before the break when March crashed into the area under Alisson’s challenge, but referee Darren England overturned his original decision to award a kick after consulting VAR.
That mattered little, however, as March scored his third and fourth goals of the campaign before Welbeck struck to lift Brighton into seventh place – one place and two points above their opponents.
The unfortunate Liverpool well beaten
Defensive weaknesses and a lack of physicality have proven Liverpool’s loss in recent weeks, with Klopp’s side conceding poor goals in the Premier League loss to Brentford and a draw at home to Wolves in the FA Cup on Last weekend.
The visitors, lined up in a 4-3-1-2 formation led by Cody Gakpo and Mohamed Salah, managed to keep Brighton fluid at bay in the first half but created almost nothing themselves and had the chance to enter half-time level.
Mitoma, in sparkling form for Brighton of late, has caused countless problems for Alexander-Arnold and Matip, with Salah – or any other Reds player for that matter – offering no protection on their right flank.
Liverpool survived a major let-go when Brighton were awarded a penalty for a foul in March by Alisson, only for VAR to deem the winger to have strayed offside from Adam Lallana’s pass.
But the visitors’ luck ran out in the second half as March netted twice in the space of seven minutes to put Brighton on course for a fifth win in seven top-flight games.
Gakpo had a close-range shot saved by Robert Sanchez late in the game, but Welbeck delivered the final blow with a strike that combined both skill and audacity.
Seagulls go from strength to strength
Mac Allister received his first start since helping Argentina win the World Cup in December, as Brighton made two changes to the side that beat Everton in their last league game.
The midfielder paraded his World Cup winner’s medal before kick-off and was enthusiastically greeted by Seagulls supporters, who had been hoping for a first league win at home to Liverpool since January 14 1961 – precisely 62 years ago.
Buoyed perhaps by the return of Mac Allister to the starting lineup, Brighton played with precision and ease from the start. March’s low shot was cleared brilliantly by Alexander-Arnold, before Mitoma fired in at the far post after breaking through the Liverpool defence.
While Brighton’s opener came from a mistake by Liverpool, there was nothing lucky about the home side’s second as March ended beautifully after being played by teenager Ferguson, who delivered the latest in a series of eye-catching performances.
Brighton have now scored in each of their last eight games in the top flight, netting 21 goals in this run.
“It was one of the best performances I can remember in a long time,” March told BBC Sport. “It’s a great day and if we keep playing like this we will do well for sure.
“It was just about being patient and waiting for that good pass. We play better against the big teams at home. I don’t know why.
“I love playing for Roberto – he’s great. He puts his arm around you and tells you you’re a good player. Maybe that’s what I needed.”
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